I could never imagine that such a place can actually exist in the oh so modern Tokyo. When I saw the picture on Instagram, I thought that the place was in Kyoto or somewhere else that is more… historic? Somehow my image of Japan is forever stuck in the Edo or Himeji era I guess, which explains why I love Kyoto so much.
It calls Omoide Yokocho or memory lane. Seem fitting for the place, isn’t it? So when I knew that it is in Tokyo, smacked right in the middle of bustling Shinjuku area nonetheless, I got my eyebrow raised. It also goes by another name; one that is more catchy and definitely stuck with me: Piss Alley.
Back in the old days, it says that the area was the Tokyo’s underworld’s territory. Naturally, this narrow laneway was a place where you would like to avoid, especially after dark. And where the Piss Alley name came from? Well, Tokyo in those days didn’t have so many fancy toilets like what they have now. So… the narrow alley was where they go when they have to go. The name was quite explanatory huh?
Piss Alley was near to the Shinjuku station. Google map says it’s a six minutes walk. But you have to open your eyes wide to find the entrance. It’s tucked between the buildings and you could miss it if you don’t really know where to look. I did miss it a couple of times actually because on Google map the entrance leads to a curry restaurant. The map was correct, it was just that the Piss Alley actually located behind the curry restaurant. The curry restaurant has two entrances, one from the main road and the other one is open towards Piss Alley. Okay, enough with the curry restaurant. Here’s the entrance that you don’t want to miss-
Yakitori is the main course here. Every restaurant in the premises seems to have it on their menu. Beware though that some places have an English menu and some don’t. Time to goes local!
Most of the restaurants here are still very traditional. In the sense that the owner will be the one who does everything – manning the grill, serving the food, cleaning, cashier duty, and chatting up the customers. Most restaurants are quite small that they can only fit around ten people at a time.
I thought the place will cater to mostly local, but turns out it was quite touristy! So it was not really Tokyo’s off the beaten path per se but it was still a nice change from the modernized world outside of this alley.